17. Pittsburgh Steelers –Damontre Moore, DE/ Texas A&M – Moore has tumbled from top 5 to 17 post combine and Adam Schefter reported that the combine “validated whispers” among NFL scouts who were all along unimpressed by his athleticism. I have read with the release of Rashard Mendenhal there is talk that the Steelers could be looking at Alabama RB Eddie Lacy and I would second that notion, but with the loss of James Harrison the need to replace his productivity at DE and OLB will be a priority.
18. Dallas Cowboys –. Kenny Vaccaro, S/Texas – Dallas let Gerald Sensabaugh walk this off season and only have Barry Church coming back off an Achilles injury. The need for a safety has to be a priority for the Cowboys. Vaccaro is a top 12 talent that falls to the Cowboys because of team need. If he gets past the Rams, Dallas will jump at the opportunity.
19. New York Giants – Bjoern Werner DE/ Florida State – GM Jerry Reece has an affinity for pass rushers, and with Osi Umenyiora most likely leaving in free agency the need to draft a guy like Werner increases. Werner had been suggested as a top 10 pick before his poor combine performance. He can play both OLB and DE much in the same mold as Mathius Kiwanuka and is still very new to the game after only starting to play football at the age of 15. Jason Pierre Paul didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school, and if the Giants could find another player of his caliber, the defense would again put the rest of the NFL on notice.
20. Chicago Bears – D.J. Fluker, OT/Alabama – Some scouts doubt if Fluker can play tackle in the pro level. I think Chicago couldn’t care less if he slides to guard as they desperately need to address the offensive line in this draft considering the depth of the class. D.J. Fluker who measures in at 6’6” 339 would be the 6th offensive linemen taken in this mock and the second of the first round coming from a SEC powerhouse in Alabama that produces NFL players every single year.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Alec Ogletree, ILB/Georgia –Ogletree did not interview well at the combine and because of that will fall a few spots in the draft. Both the Giants and the Bears need help at LB but neither of the teams will take on a player who was quoted by an NFL player personnel director as “an immature idiot.” Rey Malaluga was somehow retained by the Bengals, so there is no certainty to Ogletree being drafted here as his attitude will put him in a free fall on draft day.
22. St. Louis Rams (Via Redskins) – Matt Elam, S/Florida – At 5’9”, Elam’s size is a major concern for NFL teams looking to draft him since he will be the last line of defense against the Gronks and Calvin Johnsons on the league. He was asked to cover slot receivers at Florida so he has shown his ability to cover well, and he’s also known for laying a hit. St. Louis has many needs, safety being one of the most prevalent. The Rams should send Robert Griffin a thank you card for this one.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Datone Jones, DE/ UCLA – In the first of their 2 picks the Vikings will give the Williams wall a little help at DE. Gil Brandt of CBS believes Jones is more of a fit as a DE in a 4-3 which would fit the Vikings Scheme and would put another scary pass rusher on the opposite side of Jared Allen.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Xavier Rhodes, CB/ Florida State – Rhodes is revered by the Dolphins. Their loss of Jake Long will keep them from drafting Rhodes at 12. NFL Network Draft analyst Mike Mayock lists Rhodes as a 2nd round selection, but I think you need consider him at the end of the first. The Colts need help in the secondary and Rhodes, a high school WR, RB and DB, is considered to be a potential shutdown corner at the next level.
25. – Minnesota Vikings (Via Seahawks) – Keenan Allen, WR/ Cal – They had to do something after losing Percy Harvin with this pick. Even with the Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson signing, the Vikings will not be able to pass on Allen. Rehabbing a PCL tear in his left knee, Allen was not able to fully participate at the combine, but is expected to have his pro-day on April 9th. More of a possession/run-after-catch receiver than vertical threat, he very easily would move into the slot where Harvin had played before moving on the Seattle in the trade giving the Vikings this pick.
26. Green Bay Packers – Eddie Lacy, RB/ Alabama – Cedric Benson was not able to stay healthy last season for the pack, and by seasons end, the lack of a consistent running game made it easier for defenses to stop Aaron Rodgers from being as effective as we have grown accustom to seeing. Some draft experts and scouts have gone on record as saying they think Lacy may be better than his former teammate Trent Richardson. If Green Bay could get a running back of that caliber this late in the draft, it would be the steal of the first round.
27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR/ Clemson – If you are asking the question “who?” you’re probably not alone. Hopkins is not considered by most to be a 1st round talent. I disagree. NFL Draft Insider Tony Pauline was at Hopkins’ Pro Day workout and had scouts on hand describe it as “dazzling”. He has Elite level hands and ball skills, and at 6’1” 214lbs. He is physical enough to win jump balls and to maintain his balance after contact. Hopkins has enormous upside and few people even know who he is.
28. Denver Broncos – Sam Montgomery, DE/LSU – If Elvis Dumervil is resigned I will be much less confident in this pick, but with that being such a fluid situation there is no way to know what the Broncos could do here. I also like Stanford TE Zach Ertz or Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert here.
29. New England Patriots – Desmond Trufant, CB/ Washington – The Patriots may be the most difficult team to read in the draft simply because you never quite know what they are really thinking. Between the tight lipped mentality of the team and its employees, to Bill Belichick and his ability to avoid answering anything the press asks him. All you can do is analyze the roster and take a shot at it. With Aqib Talib making such an impact for the Pats last season, and the emergence of Alfonso Dennard, there is no certainty to this selection. CBS Sports Draft analyst Gil Brandt was at his pro day and suggested that his workout was enough to solidify his status as a first round selection.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Tyler Eifert, TE/ Notre Dame – Tony Gonzalez will be back for one more year. So he will have a chance to be a coach to what most consider an elite TE prospect that will take over in Atlanta in 2014. Offensively, Eifert is a beast. At 6’5” 250lbs. he’s a massive target with great hands. His only trouble is blocking. He ran a 4.68 40 time at the combine and it’s been suggested on other mock drafts that he could go as early as the Dolphins. I’d be surprised to see him go in the top 15 picks, but wouldn’t rule out the Bears, Packers and Broncos all having interest.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Zach Ertz, TE/Stanford – With the departure of Delanie Walker the 49ers need a substitute for their 2 TE sets. Colin Kaepernick needs the keep with the same offensive sets to make the pistol offense as effective as we saw it in 2013. Ertz is a poor blocker and will struggle at time at the next level, but his hands are that of a possession WR. San Fran could also be looking at the DT position.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, ILB/LSU – Minter has been compared to Jets LB David Harris. Harris has 22.5 sacks in 6 seasons with the Jets, so to be honest; I think Baltimore would be thinking bigger than those numbers. With Ray Lewis retiring, there is an obvious need to find a tackling machine. Minter has a lot to prove to be even in the same book as Lewis, but he is instinctive and physical, Minter was the most dependable player on an LSU defense chock-full of prospective NFL talent. The Bengals should have Minter high on their board as well, so he may be long gone by this time.